State let slip identities of secret witnesses in Arham murder trial

Prosecutor General Aishath Bisham. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

The High Court has revealed a blunder by the Prosecutor General’s Office whose prosecutors let slip the identities of the secret witnesses at the trial of the 2012 murder of Ahmed Arham.

Arham, a ninth grader at Dharumavantha School and a native of H. A. Hoarafushi, was found stabbed to death inside Lorenzo Park in Male’ City in the early hours of May 31, 2012.

Four suspects stood trial for his murder. They are:

  • Mohamed Wisam, Ever Blue, L. Maavah
  • Mansoor Yoosuf, Asareege, L. Maavah
  • Mohamed Sufyan, Gunzar, G. Dh. Gadhdhoo
  • Athif Rasheed, Ma. Scenery View, Male’ City

The Criminal Court, on September 22, 2016, found Wisam guilty of the murder and sentenced him to death, while the other three defendants were issued acquittals.

(From L-R) Athif Rasheed, Mohamed Sufyan, Mohamed Wisam, and Mansoor Yoosuf. (File Photo/Maldives Police Service)

The Prosecutor General’s Office filed an appeal with the High Court over the acquittals on January 15, 2017.

The second hearing in the appeal was held at the High Court this Wednesday.

The three-judge bench overseeing the appeal proceedings is presided over by Judge Shuaib Hussain Zakariyya, and also includes High Court’s Chief Judge Shujau Usman and Judge Mohamed Niyaz.

At the beginning of this Wednesday’s hearing, the bench announced that Prosecutor General’s Office has slipped some confidential information regarding the case, and warned the High Court will not take responsibility for the blunder.

In response, Attorney Ali Shah, who represents the three respondents in the case, said that he will not disclose the leaked information to his clients.

The bench pointed out that the Prosecutor General’s Office let slip the confidential information during the presentation of the closing arguments in the Criminal Court trial in 2016, while the three respondents had also been present.

The State then presented three appeal motions in the case.

The State pointed out that the same evidence was used against all four defendants during the Criminal Court trial, but that the court had cited discrepancies in the testimony of the State’s witnesses, and found only Wisam guilty of the murder. The State argues that it therefore does not believe the ruling was issued based on review of the testimony of all the witnesses.

The second motion which the State presented is the argument that all four defendants, by legal standards, had committed the crime of murder with intent to kill. The State argues that it therefore does not believe the ruling is fair based on legal standards.

The third motion the State presented in the argument that all four defendants had committed the crime of murder with intent to kill based on judicial standards. The State argues that it therefore does not believe the ruling had been fair based on judicial standards as well.

Attorney Ali Shah requested the bench for time to present a response in writing. And the court adjourned the decision after granting the request.

While appeal proceeding in the three defendants acquitted of Arham’s murder is underway, the High Court completed its hearings in the appeal filed by Wisam, the sole defendant convicted of Arham’s murder, in April, but is yet to issue a ruling.